I can't seem to concentrate on any of my other stories so here's a short fluffy one-shot. I guess I think of Snape as somewhat of a pomegranate, I've truthfully only had pomegranate juice, but it seemed really...tart. Anyway, hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: JKR owns these characters, apart from Charles Wilcox, the kindly conductor.
Charles Wilcox had been a conductor for the Kings Cross in London to Oxford for, quite literally, as long as he could remember. He loved the atmosphere and the scenery, the friendly chatter of ladies in shopping groups and old couples. Also, he secretly admitted, he was quite pleased with the fact that at the hardened age of seventy nine, he could still leap between moving cars as nimbly as in his youth, though he had no need any more. It was in this mood on a crisp September morning that he noticed a young woman sitting at the bench between platforms nine and ten, daydreaming with a dazed smile on her face. She hadn't moved for a good few minutes, and he felt a bit concerned- it was part of his job to watch out for any medical emergencies. On approaching the small lady, her head snapped up to meet his gaze and she smiled apologetically.
"Oh, I didn't realize- I'm terribly sorry, no I'm fine," the woman insisted, "it's just something about this station, it brings back so many wonderful memories."
He nodded slowly in agreement and walked back toward platform six. He didn't know what those memories might be, but he guessed perhaps- the meeting of a lover or husband? Upon checking his watch, he realized it was about half to ten, and he heard Thomas Corbett calling to him from platform eleven. As he turned to meet his colleague, he noticed the girl leaning against the post in a reverie. A blink later, she had vanished! He turned to Corbett again and removed his eyeglasses, rubbing them furiously against his sleeve, muttering something along the lines of, "Bloody prescriptions!"
Hermione Granger inhaled the cool air on Platform Nine and Three-Quarters through rounded lips, a habit she had formed in the past few years as she toured Western Europe. It tasted of cucumbers and watercress, for the train had not yet arrived and few people bothered to show up so early. Cucumber and watercress, indeed, and a hit of something flavorful, much like nutmeg. Cucumbers and nutmeg, she pondered, reminding her to write it down later.
She didn't really understand what had possessed her to return this way, but for some reason, it just felt right. It was the only way she had ever reached Hogwarts, and she wanted to remind herself of that joy. Now she was making major waves in the wizarding world, but not in any way her past self could have expected.
She supposed it began in her sixth year, when Molly Weasley broke her wrist from a practical joke courtesy Kreacher. Well, perhaps it wasn't so much of a practical joke, but it rendered the kind mother incapable to cook dinner. Hermione was then left the only person in Grimmauld Place with any culinary experience whatsoever. The dinner consisted of chicken in a simple white sauce, but she received so many earnest compliments she wondered if there was any such thing as fine wizarding cuisine. Thus, she researched. She pored over Witch Weekly's recipes, tips, and tricks, and studied the cookbooks in the Weasley kitchen with fervor. In seventh year, she even job shadowed Dobby to see just how the house elves prepared mass amounts of delicious food in such a short period of time. The results were astounding. Apart from the addition of a few unusual ingredients to dishes, all wizard cuisine revolved around traditional muggle recipes. As the devout founder of SPEW, she noticed a means for an intervention, and ran with it. It was a passion, something she excelled in and something she loved. Even the tiniest of experiments, like mixing approximately a fourth of a teaspoon of applesauce with her evening tea, led her to discovering the infinite possibilities of the taste bud. And who knew that powdered horn of a unicorn added to steamed carrots increased the flavor tenfold?
Steam billowed from the Hogwarts Express and invaded the now bustling platform. She picked up her suitcase and stepped onto the train, though she was the same height as many of the children. She felt strongly like Remus Lupin, as she occupied an empty compartment and placed her suitcase behind her. As it turned out, no students joined her, and she actually thanked the gods for that. She was in the mood for a bit of meditation before her first day at work, as Hogwarts' first official human chef. It was almost too good to be true, because it fitted her perfectly. She remembered the peculiar looks Ron and Harry had given her when she announced her new position, but they congratulated her as well. After all, she excelled at everything, and the culinary arts really were a bit of everything. Potions, to test the reactability of different ingredients, ancient runes, for some of her most daring recipes, arithmancy, for measuring statistics and amounts, herbology, for the majority of the ingredients themselves, and even transfiguration, for an instant and endless supply of utensils. The only things that didn't really apply to being a professional chef in the wizarding world were probably divination and flying! Hermione opened her suitcase and grabbed a worn brush, furiously running it through her hair to catch loose or shed hair, before she piled it into a thick bun at the nape of her neck. She also grabbed a special robe she had transfigured into a kind of tunic very similar to the garb of muggle chefs. It was about hip length and clung much tighter than an actual robe, to make sure it didn't dip into the ingredients, clasped in the front by a myriad of buttons, which she transfigured from the memory of Snape's unusual apparel. Of course the thing was white, so as to observe when stains made their way onto the cloth.
She suddenly felt queasy at the thought of seeing the Potions master again. Truth be told, she had gotten to know the man quite better during the long summers with the Order, and during the battle. However, it didn't mean he was any more pleasant or open-minded than in earlier years. The only surprise she had from the professor was the request for a dance during the Graduation Ball- though she suspected either someone spiked his punch or he was under an unforgivable. It had been a nice dance anyway, she recalled. His hand in hers wasn't shaky and damp, like Ron's had been, and he smelled nice. She couldn't recall the exact scent, but she remembered finding it pleasant. She tested the name out softly, somewhat cautiously, on her tongue: Severus. It felt unnatural to say the word, and it probably added another pixie to her stomach, if that was possible. But, she reasoned, she'd have to get used to it, now that he was her colleague and no longer her instructor.
The train slowed and halted, as Hermione held her suitcase in the sudden jerk forward. Once the clamor died down enough, she stepped off to join a couple of what looked like third years in a thestral-drawn carriage. She had read about the creatures, which only appeared if she had witnessed someone's death, and smiled grimly. Again, Remus Lupin's kind face appeared in her mind, though not for his death, but he would have been, if not for Hermione's disarming spell as Bellatrix Lestrange formed the poisonous and unforgivable words with her mouth. Five seconds later, he ended it all with the same spell she attempted to cast on him.
Hermione ran to the doors of the Great Hall for a glance before making her way to the kitchen. Tickling a pear was much better than the Fat Lady, she laughed. All the staff was seated at their table, save one- her heart sank. She had hoped, perhaps, but of course he wouldn't change, even if it was the ordination of another batch of Slytherins. As the portrait swung open, she toppled over from the onslaught of overjoyed house elves, Dobby in the lead.
"Please, miss, miss must set menu! Dinner is in fifteen minutes! Dobby must ask miss to hurry!" Hermione held him steady and entered the kitchen. It was the size of the great hall itself, with five long tables in which each meal was placed. When Dumbledore received the signal the meal was ready, he cast a charm to transfer all the dishes up one story, onto the tables of the students and faculty above. It was really quite amazing- all Hermione had to do was make one of each dish, and the house elves could duplicate it six hundred times in only a few minutes. She had chosen something very special for the occasion- her own classic recipe, grilled chicken breast in a white wine sauce with mushrooms, garnished with her last minute decision of cucumber, watercress, and nutmeg. She sprinkled a little powdered horn of unicorn over the top of the dish for flavor, and it added an elegant glimmer to the presentation. She gazed at the creation when Dobby tugged at her shoulder.
"Please, boss, Dumbledore wants you upstairs!"
Hermione's heart palpitated in her chest as she flew up the back stairs to appear at Dumbledore's side as he stood in the center of the faculty table. Her eyes flew to Snape's seat, now occupied, but he was taking in the sight of his new recruits, a smirk on his face as the Slytherin table was unusually full.
"Another development this year will be in the Hogwarts menu." Dumbledore was saying, his hand on Hermione's shoulder. She smiled timidly. "A few of you might know her from her interview in The Quibbler, or her numerous recipes in Witch Weekly," at this Dumbledore smiled at her and she returned the gesture, "as she dabbles with a revolutionary new culinary method she coined, 'muggle-magical fusion,' and so I am proud to present to you Hermione Granger, head girl of 1997 and first wizard chef of Hogwarts!"
Snape's head snapped up toward Dumbledore, but Hermione didn't notice as she was smiling shyly and waving a bit to the sea of students. She whispered in the headmaster's ear and his eyes widened. "Oh, of course, please do!" She hurried back behind the Hogwarts tapestry and down the stairwell, eager to jump in to beverages and dessert.
Dessert was simple, a blackberry torte with wild cowslip honey and a decorative cinnamon glaze topped it off, but beverages made things a bit harder.
For the students, Hermione chose the traditional pumpkin juice, chilled, with a bit of brown sugar and nutmeg for flavor and fresh john's wort blossoms, courtesy of Professor Sprout. Each of the teachers also received a sample of the concoction, though she gave the table a bottle of rich Bordeaux she brought from France, which she felt to be a perfect companion to the meal. No sooner had she placed the bottle at Snape's seat when all the food disappeared. She felt a sense of satisfaction at this and also a sense of loss- her beautiful creations, completely gone. The house elves cheered and Hermione grinned, although she missed the company of her professors, especially one. She admitted it, something in the past few years had caused her to think of the git whenever she saw a snake or a potions book or practically anything at all. She was in love with the man, and she wished to be up there with him right now. Why, if only- she paused and felt it again, a tugging at her trousers. She looked down to see a curious Dobby.
"Dobby wonders why miss hasn't taken her seat yet."
"What are you talking about, Dobby?" she asked.
"Hermione is to sit with teachers at meals," Dobby explained.
"But what about dessert?" Hermione worried.
Dobby merely shook his head and said, "Miss, we have done this longer than you have. Dobby insists you go eat." Hermione smiled broadly and gave Dobby a quick hug before running up the back stairs once more to find a place reserved for her, between Dumbledore himself and her potions professor. She grinned at the sight of her meal again, and the fact that Snape had a very contented expression as he sipped the Bordeaux.
Conversation with the teachers was sparse, perhaps because Madame Hooch dominated each topic at the very end of the table. The nutmeg worked well, she confirmed, as it was just enough not to be overbearing, but add certain warmth to the garnish. As she set her fork onto the empty plate, the blackberry torte, complete with honey and glaze appeared in front of her. Snape's came a bit later, and he took the first bite slowly, smiling.
"You've done an impressive job, Miss Granger," he complimented her, as his gaze still fixed itself at the students.
"Hermione," she corrected, and shivered at the sound of her name on his lips as he corrected himself as well. She decided to take a chance and asked him, "Do you remember the Graduation Ball?"
He raised an eyebrow as he inquired, "What about it?"
She blushed as she asked, "Did you have any- headache, or queasiness the morning after it?"
Snape's eyebrow raised itself higher. "If you are implying what I believe you are implying, Miss Granger,"
"Hermione," she corrected,
"Hermione," he repeated, "Then I can assure you I was quite sober throughout the entirety of the evening."
This time Hermione raised an eyebrow, as Snape's lips came treacherously close to her ear. She recalled what he smelled of now, as she inhaled his scent, the scent of pomegranates, tart and pungent, her favorite fruit.
"How brave are you, Hermione?" He whispered, tracing a finger down her forearm. She shivered.
"Brave as a Gryffindor," she retorted. What exactly was he trying to pull?
This seemed to be all the consolation he needed however, as he pulled her towards him, catching her mouth in his before she had a chance to protest. It turned out she didn't want to, even with the dropped jaws and exclamations of the hundreds of students below her.
Dumbledore simply smiled knowingly and returned to his conversation with Minerva about her niece's dog's kidney disorder. And fifty miles away, Charles Wilcox felt that maybe that woman hadn't found her lover at the train station, but perhaps somewhere else.